Monday, February 06, 2006


[evomech] Re: The control of body size in insects (Dev Biol)

> Regulation is the important thing, it's what creates
> diverse organisms from a common ancient skeletal pattern,
> which is simple in form and is only known by extrapolation
> from the pattern of reduction and distortion among parts.
> Regulation of the ontogeny of this original form is what
> sculpts organisms.
> What is doing the regulating? An unlimited variety of
> opportunistic mechanisms, I would think. I just speak
> for the necessity of recognizing that there is a something
> whose ontogeny is regulated, a something distinct from
> regulation itself.
> Cliff

I think I've said before that I have quite a strong interest in the 'psychology' of evolutionary theory.

I might also have said this before too (so stop me if I have!): Man once thought the earth was flat, then that the sun revolved around the earth, but now we know the earth orbits the sun. The point being that Man's perception of a natural reality sometimes has to change while the natural reality itself (obviously) does not.

Similarly, I believe evolution to be a natural process (specifically, that a testable internal mechanism may be involved - but I won't go into that!), unaffected by our intellectual perception of it, but that 'cultural conditioning' inhibits the exploration of this natural process[1].

For example, I'm still trawling the net looking for info about trilobite eyes & the fibonacci series ( and I came across these quotes from Levi-Setti's book 'Trilobites':

"The design of the trilobite's eye could well qualify for a patent disclosure" and "What we would like to hear, to appease our Darwinian upbringing"

Appease our Darwinian upbringing? Usually such appeasement is unconsciously reflected in an author's writing style rather than being so explicitly stated!

In a more general way, however, the effects of 'cultural conditioning ("The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education": Einstein) can be found in the terminology of evolutionary theory. Regulation, for example, implies 'control':

One of the most important examples of homeostasis is the regulation of body temperature" and "in humans temperature homeostasis is controlled by..."
( - the first return after putting "homeostasis temperature" into Google)

Do organisms 'control' their temperature or do they respond to temperature changes?
(I'm nearly out of time so I better stop waffling - was going to go on to "niche" and "adaptation" etc.)

I know for sure that I've previously expressed my agreement with Gould & Lewontin's "Organisms should be analyzed as integrated wholes" and yet, as a single example, it wasn't until April 2000 that the following appeared:

"Once seen as distinct, yet complementary disciplines, developmental biology and evolutionary studies have recently merged into an exciting and fruitful relationship. The official union occurred in 1999 when evolutionary developmental biology, or "evo-devo," was granted its own division in the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB). It was natural for evolutionary biologists and developmental biologists to find common ground."

Again, the point being that the natural (integrated) relationship between "developmental biology and evolutionary studies" already existed! So (and I'm really really out of time and have to end on a more abrupt note than I intended) where you see "An unlimited variety of opportunistic mechanisms" doing the "regulating" I tend to see an integrated response with finite limits.

[1] An Error In Associating Lamarck With 'Adaptive Mutations'?


Model of an Internal Evolutionary Mechanism

--- In, "Cliff Lundberg" wrote:
> From: "John Latter" jorolat@...
> Subject: Re: [evomech] The control of body size in insects (Dev
> Biol)
> > On 05/02/2006 Cliff Lundberg wrote:
> >> No doubt a lot of details are being learned about ontogeny
> >> and its regulation, but something's lacking in the general
> >> concept,
> >> namely, what it is that is being regulated.
> >
> > I feel some consideration should also be given to exactly
> > 'what' is doing the regulating! For example, in the press
> > release from:
> > Researchers evolve a complex genetic trait in the laboratory
> >

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